Bulldogs' Laing didn't hesitate when New York Jets came calling with deal after NFL Draft
UMD senior offensive lineman Brent Laing is the first Bulldog to sign an NFL deal as an undrafted free agent since Jeremy Reierson did with the Minnesota Vikings in 2014.
DULUTH — Minnesota Duluth sixth-year senior offensive lineman Brent Laing admitted to being frustrated late Saturday as the 2023 NFL Draft was winding down.
Looking at the draft board, analyzing who had already been taken and comparing it to the teams he’d talked with prior to the draft, the Lakeville, Minnesota native knew it was unlikely he’d be drafted.
With 10 picks remaining, the Bulldogs captain received a call from his agent, Joe Linta of JL Sports, saying the New York Jets had an offer for him should he not be taken. Laing didn’t hesitate, signing with the Jets after the draft as an undrafted free agent. He leaves Thursday for the Jets’ upcoming rookie camp.
“You look at the draft board, look at the teams that are left, think about who you've talked to and what they already have and stuff like that. Toward the end, it was a little frustrating,” Laing said. “I was just happy my agent called me. I got a deal. I was super thrilled and it was a team that I met with, I talked with, I feel comfortable with.”
At 6-foot-4, 304 pounds, Laing is a three-time All-NSIC pick (2019, 21, 22) and was an American Football Coaches Association First-Team All-American in 2022. He played in 43 games the past six years at UMD — redshirting in 2017 and missing the canceled 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic — starting as a right guard as a redshirt freshman in 2018 before moving to right tackle in 2019 as a redshirt sophomore.
Laing took part in the East-West Shrine Bowl in February in Las Vegas — where he worked as a guard and center in practices — and was the first Bulldog ever invited to the NFL Scouting Combine in March in Indianapolis.
In the weeks leading up to the draft, Laing said some of the teams he spoke with were the Jets, Cowboys and Patriots. It was the Jets he said he felt the most comfortable with, as he met with offensive line coach Keith Carer before the draft.
“The Jets were the right fit for me,” Laing said. “They ran a similar offensive style that I would fit well in and the need guys on the O-line.
“I’m super thrilled to be a Jet now.”
Ojile invited to Vikings rookie camp
In addition to Laing, Bulldogs sixth-year senior tight end Zach Ojile will be attending an NFL rookie camp this month. Ojile went undrafted and unsigned over the weekend, but received an invitation to attend the Minnesota Vikings’ camp.
“I was pretty excited and pretty thrilled just to get an opportunity and super fortunate,” said Ojile, who added that he didn’t expect to hear his name called Saturday during the final rounds of the draft, but he still watched to see if Laing’s name would be called. “I’m super thrilled to have an opportunity with the hometown team.”
A native of Blaine, Minnesota, Ojile is a two-time captain for the Bulldogs. A 6-2, 238 pounds, he landed on the All-NSIC first team this season after catching 25 passes for 289 yard and five touchdowns. He also ran for three TDs having started his college career as a running back.
Bulldogs coach Curt Wiese said Monday that both Ojile and Laing emulate everything UMD football stands for, and that’s he’s proud of the opportunity both players have to make an NFL roster come fall.
“I have no doubt that both of these guys are going to make the best of the opportunity,” Wiese said. “They understand the competitive nature of what they're getting themselves into. We have tried to press that upon every scout that's been on campus over the last two years, looking at both these guys, that get these guys in camp and they're not going to disappoint you.”